One of the most influential figures in the world of underground street culture is in Johannesburg to document the adidas originals I ART JOBURG community art project which is transforming the Maboneng Precinct in the eastern part of the city.
Martha Cooper is a pioneering photographer who has been capturing and publishing images of graffiti, street art, hip hop, break dancing and everything else that represents the unofficial, ground-level culture of ultra-urban New York since moving to that city in 1977.
Her first book, Subway Art (with Henry Chalfant), has been in print since 1984 and is affectionately called the “Bible” by graffiti artists.
Other books by this prolific 69-year-old include: Hip Hop Files 1980-1984 which contains hundreds of rare, early Hip Hop photos; We B*Girlz which is an intensive look at girls who break-dance worldwide, Remembering 9/11 which captured the variety of spontaneous memorials that sprang up in New York after the attack on the World Trade Center and Tokyo Tattoo 1970, which showcased photos she took while living in Japan in the 70’s.
Martha’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries worldwide and published extensively in magazines from National Geographic to Vibe. She lives in Manhattan where she is the Director of Photography at City Lore, the New York Center for Urban Folk Culture.
In spite of her global reputation, Cooper modestly describes herself as more of an ethnographer than a photographer but she, more than anyone, has amplified New York street culture around the world.
Martha Cooper‘s photo documentary of I ART JOBURG will be exhibited for two months in the Maboneng Precinct after which it will move to Cape Town. Ms Cooper and her work will also be present at Str.Crd on 29 September. Make sure you keep an eye on our Twitter account to see how you can win tickets.